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myOtaku.com: Razing Phoenix

Sunday, September 7, 2008

   Chapters One-Ten of Tales of Three Worlds by Razing Phoenix
PART ONE: An Overview,
Translucent Threads

“Only in the world called Memoria, those human enough to realize the great feat of power shall learn the ways of ever-sustaining life”.

This is one of the many edicts that the founder and Goddess of Synergy, Festina Incarnia had given the cathedrals of Memoria. However, some people cannot refrain themselves from destroying the delicate balance from the Synergy, which governs the very origin of Three Worlds; Memoria, Evangelion, and Armestris. The delicate balance between those worlds are connected together by the basic elements of the promise of ever-sustaining life; fire, earth, water, and air.
These basic elements also sustain the ‘translucent threads’ that connect every spirit and human being alike between the Three Worlds. Those elements are represented by the dominating Six Elemental Spirits, the ones who maintain the balance of life, death, and salvation. Should this delicate balance be destroyed by the ill-fated, the whole balance of life itself shall be destroyed as well. That would also allow chaos to erupt; chaos that would be as powerful as the energy which created the Three Worlds in the first place. The people of the Three Worlds were given life, as well as the power to do as they please, but they are expected to keep their promise, just as the Goddess had kept hers: Sustaining the natural balance of the Three Worlds…
Spirit Summoning, which is calling upon spirits with the power known as Synergy in the Three Worlds, was something that was destined to occur among the Three Continents of a world called Memoria. Manndette, Emorian, and Cyrus were the only continents on this world called Memoria. The people of Memoria have co-existed with the Spirit World and Underworld in harmony for centuries, until the Six Elemental Spirits (beings made up of the basic elements of life) began staying on the Memoria, refusing to leave.
That is where the problems began. As the Spirits stayed on longer terms, unnatural weather conditions began. The people thought that the Six Elemental Spirits and the unnatural weather conditions had a connection. The harsh weather left hundreds of people homeless, which caused immigration to happen, crowding places even more. It also caused some of the ships to stop coming in to give the other continents supplies.
On the continent of Manndette, the Government came up with a solution: a young girl whom was orphaned when her father, a governor, whom was assumed dead. The girl could, miraculously, contact the Spirit World and possibly other worlds beyond. Her name was Miranda Laverne. Miranda, being optimistic and according to her father’s viewpoint of such matters, believed that the government had good reasons to why she was becoming extremely valuable and reliant to them. The Government, also known as the Synprogue, told her to contact Spirit Sasuke, a powerful Leader of the Spirit World. She did reach him, and was able to ask him for help.
In return of her request, Sasuke gave Miranda was six cards. Each one showed a symbol of each Six Elemental Spirit. Sasuke said to capture all of the Six Elemental Spirits. She would do that by using her Synergy (which is the spiritual energy borrowed from the Six Elemental Spirits of Memoria) to form a pact of trust, and seal their spirit and their Synergy within the card, also allowing her to re-summon them if she wrote down their name on the card. This gave her the title of Memoria’s “Spirit Summoner”. And in that realm with Sasuke, Miranda had a conversation that she will never ever forget…
Miranda glanced up at Sasuke and asked, “Am I supposed to do this alone? I mean, some of them could be dangerous, right?” She was referring to the Six Elemental Spirits.
Spirit Sasuke looked down on her. He knew her father, and knew that she had inherited Lucas Laverne’s telepathic powers to enter the Spirit World when she was born.
“There are those who wish to keep the natural balance of the Three Worlds; however, there are also those who wish to destroy it.” He continued, “However, as you begin your journey, you will find faithful help. And I will always be watching you as you progress in your quest to capture all of the Six Elemental Spirits, and return them here to be sorted to where they will Cross-Over.” He explained softly. Just keep this up, he thought, she’ll do everything I tell her to.
Miranda looked at the six cards in her hand and smiled. “I will be successful, Spirit Sasuke. I promise… for the sake of ever-sustaining life.” Miranda told Saskae confidently.
Sasuke nodded. She must also promise something else… my people’s future. He thought to himself, she is honest and trustworthy; she will not fail.
“I know. Ah, one more thing. When you meet someone named Zachary Voda, please tell him that he is able to resume his apprenticeship after the Journey is completed.” He remarked. He is, after all, the only one that could possibly accomplish my goal…
Miranda gave him a confused look. “Um, okay, I guess I could tell him,” She said, “But I thought no other humans were allowed to enter the Spirit Shrines because they lead to the Spirit World?”
“He will be able to enter the shrine, trust me. Miranda, I do trust that the natural balance of the Three Continents may be restored when you capture the Six Elemental Spirits. The Three Continent’s fates are now in your hands.” Sasuke added- The Three Continents, and especially the Three World’s unbeknownst fate-he thought.
Miranda bowed her head. “Thank you. I won’t let you down Spirit Sasuke.” She whispered.
Spirit Sasuke closed his eyes and thought to himself… And what seemingly translucent threads there are indeed; the single connection of commitment is clearly unbeknownst to these disgraceful humans…
And with that, Miranda disappeared, leaving the seemingly wise Spirit. When she returned to the Mortal World, the Chancellor of the government congratulated her for finding a way to stop the madness…

Chapter One: The Blue Envelope
A young man named Zachary Voda sat on a veranda. Zach was dressed all in black clothes, save for the red ornaments that decorated the edges of the pants and sleeves; the sleeves had buttons on the ends. The pants were tucked into his brown boots, and the collar of his shirt went up on his chin. He also wore a black cape around his shoulders.
He watched the clouds slowly crawl across the sky. He closed his dark eyes as the breeze lifted up his brown hair. Zach sighed. What he couldn’t understand was why the League was panicking; it was a perfect day. The war had only started on the continent of Manndette. Yet they were all preparing traps in the woods and sharpening their blades; Zach wasn’t preparing now because he prepares his weapons on a daily basis. Yes, he had weapons. In fact, he was the most skilled swordsman in all of Memoria… the Master Swordsman of Memoria was his alter ego to the outside world.
He glanced back into the old screen door that led into the lower level of the lodge. Several of the men were shouting at each other to get them something. Living at the lodge was like living with your younger brothers and sisters without parents; they were always fighting. All they did was argue, but through and through, they were a great team. The team was called the League of Woodsmen because they helped soldiers of the war find safe routes to their destinations.
Zach wondered why they did that, when suddenly, the screen door swung open and closed with a short squeak. Zach jumped up onto his feet. His mind wasn’t on the lodge’s veranda; he was thinking about retiring the League… the others would never go for that.
A tall man with a large forehead and small mustache appeared. He was holding a blue envelope; his hands were shaking slightly. Zach stared at it. Blue envelopes usually meant that it was from one of the other two continents, and the only time he got one was the one that explained to him how his parents died.
“I- I know what you’re thinking, Zach. It’s not what it looks like… well, maybe it is. Here, just read it.” The man pleaded.
“Alright,” Zach said as he remembered the man’s name. It was Alston, one of the best archers; he wasn’t this nervous… usually. Something was going on.
“Alston, why is it that I’m always the one who has to read these stupid things?” Zach asked.
Alston shrugged. “I guess because you’re the most skilled of us. The Four Synagods appointed you for a reason.” He replied.
“The Four Synagods… how did they find out about us anyway?” Zach asked sarcastically, narrowing his dark eyes.
“Because, uh, Bartholomew used the mail system to send his mail…?” Alston answered.
Zach only wanted to give this guy a hard time, because he really did hate to read the letters that came in the blue envelopes.
“Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, I suggest that you pretend that we never accepted mail from Parliament. In fact, I don’t want to receive any more mail, period. We cannot endanger our secrecy any more; the Forsyn War is nearing our home continent. We must remain hidden until we are desperately needed.” Zach explained.
Alston stiffened. “Yeah, I’ll make sure we never get mail again to ensure our secrecy.” He said angrily, apparently ticked at the way Zach talked to him.
Alston turned and left Zach alone. Zach sighed. The shouting in the lodge continued. It didn’t bother him; he was used to it, sadly. He sat back down on the wooden swing. Zach nervously opened the blue envelope. As soon as he did, a piece of paper fell out.
Zach picked it up gingerly and unfolded the paper …

Zachary Voda,
Your assistance is requested by the Government of Manndette. I know about your mysterious group of outcasts. Furthermore, the Six Elemental Spirits are making the Three Continent’s economy more and more difficult to restore to its full potential. The previous war did more damage than we anticipated it would. However, we have come up with a solution to the Six Elemental Spirits dilemma.
A young girl named Miranda Laverne has obtained telepathic powers of the Six Elemental Spirits. She was given a device from Spirit Saskae that captures the Six Elemental Spirits. Although she is being watched by Spirit Saskae, we need someone to protect Miranda on her dangerous journey. If you are successful, you will be rewarded greatly.
Your help is requested by all high ranking officers of the Government (Synprogue) and Parliament… This may be unorthodox, but be sure to go alone. Sol Genova
Zach groaned and put the letter in his back pocket. Sol Genova? Where had he heard that name before? He didn’t know him and he expected Zach to protect the world’s assumed savior? Was it because he was Spirit Saskae’s apprentice once before? He knew he was the most skilled Leagues man, as modest as he might be, but this… was way over his head. Zach slumped into the swing.
Chapter Two: Leaving a Past Life Behind
After supper, Zach stood up and gestured to the members of the League. They all looked at him expectantly.
“I have just received a blue envelope from Parliament,” Zach announced.
Most of the men whispered nervously. Everyone there knew that blue envelopes typically bore bad news, like being drafted to war or someone’s relative passed away. But this one… this one was different.
Zach cleared his throat and said, “I have been summoned by Parliament to guard the girl who is the Spirit Summoner; she will embrace the Six Elemental Spirits. I am ordered to leave here and go to Manndette as soon as possible.”
Then the men became angry. “Why should you have to go? You’re the youngest one here!” Greg shouted.
“But that’s all the more reason why they should trust him, Greg!” Walter, one of the gray-haired men suggested.
“Hey! Why can’t Fredrick go? He’s just as good as you!” Kurt bellowed.
Zach’s left eye twitched in anger. He grabbed a knife that was next to a plate and fiercely stabbed it into the wood of the table. He stared at his own infuriated reflection in the blade of the knife. The room quieted, with several other anxious eyes staring at him.
“Okay! I get it!” Zach yelled furiously. It suddenly became eerily quiet. Now all of them stared at him expectantly.
“The letter was sent for me! No, I don’t even want to go. It’s a huge responsibility. But Sol Genova said to go alone! He didn’t want anyone else. I don’t know what’s so… special about me, but we have to trust the decisions made by our leaders in a time of war!” Zach explained.
The real truth behind that was Zach didn’t want anyone to come looking for him, and give away their hideout.
Most of the men nodded, but mostly the older men. If Zach couldn’t control them, they may not let him leave. Zach stared at them firmly, to show how serious he was. But it seemed as though they needed a more convincing explanation. His shoulders relaxed. He sighed.
“Everyone, the Synagods is very, very powerful group of people. Only those who are fortunate enough to look at them and live to tell the tale is loosely, yet somewhat equally compared to them… In order for us to help end this war, we must trust our leaders… including myself. We shall not show fear to them by deliberately disobeying them; that would totally give us away.” He explained slowly.
The other men nodded in approval, but some were still reluctant. Other than that, they were all digesting what he had said.
“I must leave tonight, then.” Zach said.
Vander, one of the oldest members, stood up. He had wavy, graying hair and green eyes. Zach clenched his fists. Now what? He thought.
“Only on one condition,” he said in a low voice, “You must try out this wondrous and whimsical wallet!” he finished cheerfully.
Zach dropped his tensed-up shoulders and released his clutched fists. His jaw dropped… he couldn’t believe this guy.
“Uh, okay…?” Zach agreed.
Vander tossed Zach the wallet.
“What exactly does it do, Vander?” Zach asked skeptically, holding it out with his forefinger and thumb as if it was poisonous. His left eyebrow went up in astonishment and frowned.
“Well, whenever you want food, open it by pressing the green clip. When you want a drink, press the blue clip. It is very convenient, Zach. Please use it on your long Journey.” Vander explained. Zach’s jaw dropped; again.
Of all things he could have given Zach, Vander gave him a worthless wallet. And he had wondered why they were so short on money…
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Drake said, standing up. “You’re actually taking this crap? He shouldn’t be going! He’s too young!” he shouted crossly.
Vander shook his head. “And you are too arrogant. Do you not care about the League’s future? If he doesn’t do as this fellow, err, Sol Genova says, he may as well take us all to the gallows and give away all our secrets.” Vander argued decisively. Drake agreed and finally settled down.
Zach shook his head in disbelief at Vander and left the room. Then, later, Zach put on his cloth-armor, which was harder than Mythrillian Steel; a special product of Parliament that was stolen long ago and worn by the founder of the League. He also packed his small bag he placed on his belt, which also held his precious swords: the Blades of Humana, swords blessed by the Goddess Festina Incarnia. They believed that she was the one whom discovered the use of Synergy…
He had no money to buy what he had to have to survive; so he only took what he needed. The last thing he did was put on a black cloak with a hood, to hide his identity as a Leagues man.
When he walked out of the lodge, he found himself being slapped on the back and being greeted with a ‘good luck’. Obviously Vander had talked them into seeing him off. But Zach appreciated it. He didn’t really want to leave without saying good-bye anyway.
“I am sorry for being so… arrogant earlier. We are proud that you are fulfilling your duty.” Drake said, with a hint of doubt.
Zach nodded. “Thanks, Drake. Just cool down a little bit… okay?” He said.
“Ah, I’ll try to.” Drake chuckled, scratching the back of his head.
Zach went over to Vander and Hugh. “Hey,” Zach said. Vander nodded to him. “Zach, one more thing: if you meet that Sol Genova, tell him that the League will never be removed; never. Even if we’re on the brink of collapsing, we will still be a team.” Vander declared.
“Yeah, and if he ever demands a duel, we’ll help you out. He’s one of those Synagods, you know. So be careful.” Hugh suggested.
“I’ll keep that in mind. Teamwork, right…?” Zach promised.
The sun was setting. Even though it would be dark, Zach still had a great sense of direction. His instincts were not too bad either. He was confident that he could find this girl.
As he walked away, he suddenly realized he was walking away from everything he ever knew. Ever since his parents abandoned him, he lived there in the lodge. Deep down inside, he couldn’t believe that he was going along with this.
Meanwhile, the others were watching him leave. Vander, Drake, and Hugh stood on the veranda
After Zach had crossed the Garret Ocean, he arrived on Manndette. His continent was closer to Manndette than Emorian was. He traveled until it was dawn and came across the edge of Woo Forest.

Chapter Three: Miranda’s Departure
The next day, Miranda prepared for her Journey; she had to leave and get the job done as soon as possible. Miranda tried to pack lightly. The Government provided her with gold coins to buy supplies if she ran out. After all, she was the one who was going to help restore their twisted world to the peaceful place it once was.
She also decided to pack a weapon, hoping it would not be necessary; it was a Syn Ring. A Syn Ring is a piece of rare materiel from the Spirit Czech. It’s the strongest metal that’s incredibly light, but does serious damage. A Syn Ring is a circular ring with wires that connect in the middle that can cause explosions when it’s charged with Synergy, which is the power that is drawn from the Spirit World or Underworld.
At least Miranda did not have to say good-bye to any family members; they all somehow died during the Great Syn War when she was a small child. Miranda could never forget how everyone, including her, was so very sad.
But when she was at the entrance, Miranda was surprised to see President Norman Heave himself, along with her mentor, Ms. Viva. She hugged Ms. Viva. “Thank you for everything, Ms. Viva.” Miranda said.
Ms. Viva pulled away from her. “My dear, it was a pleasure to watch you grow to be the responsible young lady you are now.”
Miranda smiled and wiped a small tear away.
She turned expectantly to the Chancellor, Norman Heave. “Well, I guess this is what it comes to, Miss Miranda.” He implored.
Miranda nodded. “Mr. Heave, I believe this is the way it was meant to be… And when I return, there will be no more suffering. The Spirits will leave, and everything will be back to normal… wherever it left off.” She declared.
Mr. Heave chuckled. “I knew you were the right one to count on, Miranda. You’re so much like your father…” he said, but faded out when he said ‘father.’
Miranda frowned. She never took her father’s death lightly. Miranda stepped back and quickly gave them a grin.
“Err; your father would be proud of you.” Mr. Heave said quickly.
Miranda glanced out to the horizon. The sun was slowly reaching the hills. The world was waiting.
“Well, I want to get going before the sun sets.” Miranda suggested softly.
Mr. Heave and Ms. Viva nodded and smiled. Miranda held her head up high, spun on her heels, and took a step down one of the stairs’ steps. She looked over her shoulder.
“Good-bye!” Miranda said. And with that, she left them, tall and proud.

Chapter Four: The First Shrine
Miranda was out of her home city; Firedrake City of Manndette. She was on her way to save the Three Continents. Miranda wondered how and why she was able to enter the Spirit World. If she was able to, couldn’t others as well? Was she really all alone?
As Miranda walked along a dirt road through a thick forest, she kept alert. Spirits could be anywhere. She wondered where she was. Probably not far from Firedrake City, but Miranda pulled out a map anyway. She never went far from the Synprogue Palace; she had no need to. But according to the map, she was a day and a half away from her city. The forest she was in was called Woo Forest. It was a dark, spooky forest with many shadows creeping everywhere, but Miranda knew she had nothing to be afraid of… until she heard a whooshing sound.
She spun around and did a three-sixty. Nothing was in sight except for tall trees and big bushes that had bright red berries on them. Miranda glanced up. Dim sunlight poured through the canopy of the tree tops, making small clouds of dust appear.
Something was coming.
“Who’s there? Show yourself!” Miranda shouted.
The next thing she knew, a gust of wind blew her off her feet.
“NO!” Miranda screamed as she slid on her feet and slammed into the trunk of a pine tree. Several leaves fell to the ground around her.
“Ow!” Miranda uttered.
Suddenly, a long, transparent figure appeared. It was glowing purple. The Spirit had taken the form of a dragon. It had the ten eyes of knowledge. They were red, and angry, and they were all watching Miranda. She knew this Spirit somehow… Of course! It was an Elemental Spirit named Czech. It was the Elemental Spirit of earth.
Miranda gasped and quickly took out her six cards. She leafed through them until she found the card with the symbol for Czech. Miranda was not so sure on how to use it, but she had a pretty good idea.
“Czech, please, I was sent by Saskae to find you!” Miranda shouted.
It reared its many-eyed head and lunged at Miranda. She ducked. Smack! Czech hit the tree’s trunk hard with a sickening thud!
When Miranda quickly held the brown card up to the Spirit, and its tail began to be sucked into the symbol on the card. Seconds later, the whole Spirit disappeared into the card. It howled and writhed in utter defeat. Miranda instantly placed the card back into the small card case around her neck.
Miranda sighed with relief. If she had not caught it, she didn’t want to think about it.
But she had five of more Spirits to go. It was going to get tougher as she traveled, but it was the only way to bring back peace to the Three Continents. However, she had no idea how she was going to catch other Spirits and survive that long.
By the time Miranda made it another mile or two, darkness began to envelope the forest. She decided to make camp.
What she saw made her hear leap. It was a shrine that was similar to Spirit Saskae’s shrine. It must have been Czech’s shrine. There were many engraved eyes on the arched entry way. Yes, definitely Czech’s shrine to the Spirit World. But why wouldn’t Czech go to the Spirit World where the Spirit truly belonged? Miranda assumed that that’s why she was on this journey in the first place, to find answers.
Miranda found a small clearing with bushes surrounding a patch of grass near the shrine. It looked like a good spot. Miranda easily built a fire using a type of matches discovered by Mr. Heave’s professor, Prof. Mane. They weren’t normal matches, though. All you had to do was hold a small, thick stick-like match over a pile of wood, or whatever you were burning, and clicked a small button on the handle. Instantly, flames would shoot out, making a nice, warm fire. They would never be used all the way, making it a very useful tool.
Miranda made a meal of bread and fruit. It was a simple meal, but it filled her up. She also had a container of fresh water. Miranda took a few gulps and sighed. She spread out a sleeping bag, lay down and stared at the canopy of tree branches. Small Nish Birds, birds with long, strange beaks and pink feathers, whistled a sweet lullaby. Soon, Miranda drifted off into a peaceful sleep…

Chapter Five: Alone No More

As she slept, someone watched her. It was a young man wearing a plain, black and deep red tunic and jacket with a white collar. On his back were two scabbards that held two long swords. He also wore a black cloak, making it hard to see him very much at all. He was standing on a tree branch, high in the air. The young man knew that this girl would have troubles on her journey, and that’s why the Synagod Sol Genova sent him to protect her. He couldn’t believe that her own Government had sent this girl all by herself, with no guard. Had they no common sense at all? Or were they really trying to get her killed?
Hours later, he saw a pair of eyes lurking in the shadows of the bushes… he knew those eyes. They were the eyes of Remiel, a man who wanted to corrupt the Three Continents, and bring down all form of governments. And this was the perfect time to start his dirty work.
The young man knew what he had to do; he was no stranger to battle. Besides, after years of experience, the he knew that when in a fight, you must never make the first move. If you do, it could be the last thing you do. If you make the first move, your opponent may make the second and third move, and finish you off. So, he waited.
Without warning, Remiel lunged out of the bushes. The girl suddenly shot up straight, her bright blue eyes wide and alarmed. She glanced around, startled. Remiel attacked her, grabbed her arm and threw her into a tree trunk.
“Ow… not the trees again,” Miranda thought, rubbing her head.
The young man on the tree branch jumped down and landed on the back of the attacker, pinning him to the ground. The attacker yelled in shock. Miranda stared with wide eyes. She took a step back away from the two mysterious men. The larger man managed to squirm away from the younger man. Then Remiel pulled out a huge, wide, silver and black sword. The sword was so big, he had to tightly grip onto it with both hands and part his legs for balance. The sword was even almost as big as one of the trees! How he could hold it and still stand, no one knew… But now it just got interesting. Who should she be routing for?
The young man swiftly stood up and swiped out his two long swords. So much power was released from the blades that transparent sparks of Synergy appeared and danced around the other man. He put one foot in front of him to have a sideways defense, to make the rest of his body a smaller target. He held his swords, ready to strike. His kind and dark eyes were focused, watching the other man.
Miranda put her hands up to her face. She didn’t want to watch. Suddenly, the campfire blew out. It was dawn, but still dark. The sun was just now getting ready to rise. She didn’t know who wanted to harm her, or help her. The young man sensed this and gave her a small smile and a reassuring wink. Miranda, whom was astonished, blinked. She was confused and a little embarrassed, but less tense.
The other man skillfully slashed his big sword at the young man. An explosion of powerful Synergy emerged from it, zapping the ground around him. The young man gasped and quickly dodged the Synergy and caught the blow by crossing his two blades. He had simply tossed it away. He then slashed back twice with each sword, with whitish blue Synergy waves escaping from the blades, knocking the Remiel’s sword out of his hand. It fell and landed out of his reach. Remiel dove for it, snatched it, and somersaulted towards the bushes.
“Stop this fighting… now!” the younger man warned.
“Why? So that you can save the day…?”
“Perhaps, if you look at it that way…”
“Shut up! Enough idle chit chat,” Remiel said, “Be a man and fight me!”
The younger man jumped at the other man in a sideways spiral and thrust one of his swords towards Remiel. A wave of icy water flooded Remiel, knocking him into a tree. But Remiel wasn’t giving up so easily. He took his stance; feet apart. A golden and orange light began to glow. Seconds flew by, and things seemed to be slowing down, as if time were in slow motion.
The younger man dived for Miranda and pushed her away just as the first wave of Synergy emerged. She screamed as Remiel released the rest of the Synergy. It first condensed into a small orange orb, but then blew up into a tiny million shards, striking everything in its path. The shards bit into the barks of the trees, and when Remiel’s Synergy built up again, more orbs appeared and destroyed many trees, causing a large clearing in the middle of the forest!
Remiel simply smirked and looked around for the younger man, who was hiding behind a tree, holding Miranda close. She looked up at him in confusion, but with a hint of pure curiosity in her innocent eyes. The young man looked back at her with a calm expression, but still with sincere trust. He made the sign to be quiet by holding his finger up to his lips. Miranda nodded.
“Where are you? Show yourself, coward!” Remiel shouted.
Behind the tree, the young man looked down at Miranda again.
“Everything will be all right, okay?” he told her.
She hesitated, but nodded. He smiled, and, miraculously, she smiled back.
“Good... Now, do you trust me?” he asked.
“Um, yes…?” Miranda muttered.
“Don’t worry; I’ll protect you, okay?” he assured.
Miranda nodded; that was just about all she could do in her current state. But the young man gently let go of her. He fearlessly jumped out from behind the tree and tackled Remiel. Then, determinedly, he slashed the sword out of Remiel’s hands with a courageous cry. The young man then summoned a blast of purple-colored Synergy and slashed the big sword into a tiny million pieces. Remiel stared in shock as the pieces of metal shattered. The pieces of metal slowly scattered in the air and fell to the ground. The two opponents seemed to be frozen, waiting for each other to make their next move.
Remiel grunted. “Humph; I see you’ve improved.” He seethed through gritted teeth, slowly backing away.
The young man shrugged. “I’ve just had a lot of practice lately, thanks to a certain someone.” He remarked.
“Yet you still haven’t learned respect.” Remiel countered.
He tackled the younger man and pinned him. He grunted in surprise as his own swords flew out of his hands, just out of his reach. Remiel was so close to his face, he could smell his stinky breath. He gasped for a breath of clean air, which didn’t really help. He closed his eyes shut tight and struggled to escape Remiel’s grip while reaching for a weapon.
“Oh, just out of your reach, eh?” Remiel remarked, “Well, too bad- pay back time!” He punched the young man in his narrow jaw. He let out a shout; a small trickle of blood streamed from the corner of his mouth. Miranda, out of fear for the young man, moved her hands from her face. Remiel looked at her.
“If you hand over the Elemental Cards, I will leave you alone. That is all I want.” He implored.
The young man’s shoulders tensed. If she gave the man that Spirit Summoning cards, then all hope would be lost. Remiel put his sword up to the young man’s throat and looked at Miranda. He gasped.
“Give it to me, or your rescuer shall die before he rescues you!” Remiel threatened.
Miranda shook her head. “Don’t hurt him! …Please, don’t,” she uttered.
The younger man gave her a confused look. What was she trying to do? And why was she trembling so much?
She couldn’t hand it over. She would be giving up the world if she did. Miranda had made a promise to Saskae, and the Government, and everyone. There was no way she was going to give up so soon in the adventure.
“Very well, you shall not be safe. I will chase you as long as you posses the Spirit Cards… Always,” Remiel announced.
He stared at the young man in the eye and said, “It was either you, or your home.”
Just before he was about to stab the young man, Miranda quickly pulled out her Chakrams. She spun them crossed her arms, creating charged electricity from their centers, and threw a large wave at Remiel. Remiel stood up, shocked at her sudden move.
“So, you can put up a fight,” he seethed. Then he looked at Zach. “And aren’t you the lady’s man…”
With that, he turned into a cloud of black smoke and flew up, through the tree canopy, and into the dark sky. Frustrated, the young man blasted another wave of Synergy up at Remiel. Remiel, however, simply laughed and disappeared into the darkness. Miranda and the young man watched him leave. When he was gone, Miranda glanced at the young man.
“Thank you,” Miranda said.
The young man looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “For what?” he asked.
“You… saved me. Thank you.” Miranda said again.
“Oh; it was nothing. I’m supposed to protect you anyway.” The young man said, sliding his swords back into their scabbards.
“You are? Where did you come from? Who sent you? What is your name?” Miranda questioned.
Zach chuckled. “Please, one question at a time. And my name is Zachery… Zach Voda.” The young man said.
“Well, I’m glad you came after me, Zach. My name is Miranda Laverne.” Miranda introduced.
Zach looked into Miranda’s big, shining blue eyes. She was beautiful. Now he wanted to protect her even more. She looked at him, but Zach quickly looked away.
“Uh, so, have you caught any Spirits yet?” Zach asked.
“Actually, yes, I have!” Miranda said, pulling out the Spirit Holder. Its bright glow illuminated the area. Zach had to shield his eyes.
“Yeah, that’s great. Put that thing away, okay?” he remarked.
“Oh, yeah,” Miranda said, and put the Spirit Holder back into her shoulder bag.
“Um, who was that guy? And how did you know where to find me?” Miranda questioned.
“Well, instincts, really,” Zach explained, “I saw Remiel leaving the town this morning, and followed him. He’s always up to something; the bloody assassin.”
Actually, the truth behind that was that Zach was basically a spy for the continent of Cyrus. Sol Genova had just hired him to find the Spirit Catcher, and protect her. If he didn’t do his job, they’d kill him. There was no way Zach wanted Miranda to know the truth. He tried to avoid answering her questions.
“Oh…” Miranda said. She kind of trusted this guy. He saved her life, after all. But there was something else about him as well. She just could not put her finger on it…
“Do you know how to catch more Spirits?” Miranda asked. Maybe he knew something about this. She didn’t know a whole lot about it, because catching that one Spirit was by pure luck. He raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, if you catch one element of each Spirit, like the Earth Elements, you can simply summon all of the other Spirits that range in the original Spirit. And you can catch them all like that.” Zach answered.
“Really… is it that easy, then?” Miranda remarked.
Zach shrugged. “I suppose so.”
“This might be unorthodox, but I’m the only person who can capture the Spirits. I can also enter the Spirit World. I promised that I would be successful, but there’s no way I can do it alone. So, will you please help me?” Miranda asked. She folded her hands together hopefully.
“Well, yeah. I mean, you’re obviously not armed for serious combat. So, someone’s got to make sure you catch all of the Spirits. Besides, you owe me... And I’m pretty used to things that are ‘unorthodox’.” Zach agreed.
Miranda smiled. Saskae was right. There were some who wished to help her in her journey. She would not go all the way alone.
“So, where do we go now?” Miranda wondered aloud.
Zach glanced around. “I’m not sure. But the nearest town from Woo Forest is Vedeal Village. We could probably find a map there to guide us a little.” He suggested.
“That sounds like a good idea.” Miranda agreed. She didn’t want to argue, and besides, he probably knew the land better than she did, because she never got out much.

Chapter Six: A Blinded Pathway

As the two odd couple wondered along the dirt path, they talked about what they thought about the war that had been going on for nearly sixteen years now. While they talked, Zach felt like he had a connection with Miranda. He knew he had just met her, but it was so instant that he already knew that he... He’d never felt something like that before.
Miranda told him about how she had left everything she knew. She also told him about when she entered the shrine of Saskae. If he was going to help her, he needed to know everything she did. That would certainly help in the long run.
Sooner than they had realized, the sun was high up in the sky. As they hiked up a large hill, they saw the tips of buildings in the distance. Miranda gasped.
“Look!” She called to Zach as she ran up to the top of the hill.
When they reached the top, they saw the Village of Vedeal. In the center of the small town was a little Church of Festina, and to the right were houses. On the left were small booths set up like a farmers’ market. Vegetables and fruits were lined up on long wooden tables, some people were selling hats and umbrellas, and others were selling ancient scrolls and books and potions. The sunlight shone brightly off of the higher rooftops and glistened brightly. The white sand made the reflection even brighter, and Zach and Miranda had to shield their eyes with their arms.
“Hmm,” Zach remarked, not impressed.
Miranda glanced at him.
“Uh, cool.” He added quickly.
Miranda kept on looking at him.
“Cool?” She repeated.
Zach raised an eyebrow and glanced at her.
“Yeah, cool.” he repeated.
Miranda shook her head.
“No, it’s really amazing to see something like this after coming from a dark forest.” She explained cheerfully.
“Whatever you say, Miranda,” Zach agreed.
The two companions trotted down the hill and into the village. When they went to the market, people greeted them as if they had not seen travelers in a long time. It was refreshing to see friendly people for once, Zach thought. However, there was one person who seemed not so friendly...
“Thief, thief- Stop him!” a livid voice shouted.
People were muttering nervously to each other. Some turned their heads to see someone else sprinting down the crowded aisles, knocking into people. He didn’t seen to notice them staring at him and giving him dirty looks, though.
Miranda and Zach also looked to where the shout was coming from. The boy was sprinting down an isle, holding a long scroll. The boy had brownish blond hair that was pulled back in a ponytail that bounced on his shoulders as he ran. His green eyes were pale and desperate. A green headband kept his long bangs out of his face. He wore a brown overcoat that went down to his knees and flapped in the dusty wind.
“What’s going on?” Miranda asked.
“Let’s find out,” Zach said, clearly not amused.
Before the boy passed them, Zach lazily stuck out his foot and tripped him. The boy yelped and fell onto his face. He tried to get up, but Zach merely put his foot on the boy’s back.
“Let me go!” the boy shouted.
The person whom the boy had stolen from finally caught up with him.
“Hey, give it back, kid!” the angry woman shouted, “That is a rare item!” she snatched the scroll away. The boy didn’t follow her movement, as if he couldn’t see her. She started tapping her foot angrily, with her arms folded.
“Look at me, you worthless worm!” the woman demanded.
The boy grunted. “I kind of can’t, lady.” he complained.
The woman stomped her foot in frustration. “What do you mean?” she demanded.
The boy gave a deep, almost frustrated sigh.
“I’m…” the boy began.
“Eyms!” a man’s ruff voice shouted.
Miranda and Zach looked to their left to see an old man strolling over to them, his arms swinging at his sides, indicating his anger even more. He was bald, with a scruffy grey mustache. His eyes were fiery with anger. He marched right up to the awkward scene. Zach suddenly wished he had not interfered. The old guy looked really angry.
“Eyms, what have I told you? You must not take things that don’t belong to you!” The man shouted angrily.
The boy looked to direction of the man, but not directly at him.
“I’m sorry, Uncle.” The boy called Eyms whispered.
“Don’t apologize to me, boy! Apologize to her!” the man said, pointing to the even angrier lady.
The woman looked at Eyms expectantly.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
The lady turned on her heels and was about to walk away with the scroll in her hand; dust lifted up and flew into Eyms’s face. He coughed.
“Wait,” Eyms called after her, his voice cracking. She spun around to him.
“What?” she asked irritated.
“Uncle, would you please buy it for me?” Eyms asked.
His Uncle sighed and took out five gold coins.
“Would three Glades be enough?” he asked, holding out three precious ruby-looking gems.
The woman scowled and exchanged the money for the scroll. “This should get me by for a few weeks.” She said, and stormed off.
Before she went away, she narrowed her eyes and glared at Miranda and Zach. Miranda gave a nervous, crooked smile. Zach shrugged his shoulders.
The woman walked away, sticking her nose up in the air. The man looked at Eyms. “What were you thinking? How many times have I told you?” Eyms shook his head.
“I know, I know. But this scroll…” Eyms said.
“Why do you want that scroll anyway?” Miranda asked curiously.
The old man and Eyms looked at her.
Eyms answered, “It marks the shrines of the Elemental Spirits. If I find them, then I could find the Spirit Summoner. Besides, if the Spirit Summoner is smart enough, they’d know to search for Elemental Spirits.”
Miranda nodded and glanced at Zach. She was sure glad that Zach had found her. It seemed that everyone but her knew about that.
“Well, you’ve found the Spirit Summoner, then.” Miranda announced.
Zach suddenly glanced at her. The fewer people that knew she was the Spirit Summoner, the better. The other continent’s Governments were looking for her, and he had to protect her. He didn’t want anyone to get in the way. If this new boy was a spy, then they were in trouble, and the other Governments knew that she had begun her journey. They would follow her, and wait until she was ready to release the Spirits, and take them for their own power.
“Miranda,” Zach began, but didn’t finish his thought.
Miranda looked at him curiously. Her light blue eyes sparkled. That look made him feel guilty for some reason. It was an innocent look of wonder. And he felt weak against that look.
“You mean you are- are the Spirit Summoner?” the man asked.
Eyms looked into the direction of the man’s voice.
“Yup, and proud to be,” Miranda remarked.
“You won’t be so proud soon.” Eyms whispered.
Zach looked at him. “Why?” he demanded.
Eyms took a deep breath and let it out. “The Cyrus Government is looking for you. So is Emmorian’s government.” He explained.
Zach blinked. “How do you know this?”
“Duh; everyone knows it. Even a blind guy knows the latest news.” Eyms replied.
“Blind?” Miranda repeated.
So that’s why the boy didn’t follow their movements, or look them in the eye. He was blind. That led to another question: How did he know which scroll to take?
“That explains some things. But how did you know which scroll to steal?” Zach asked, folding his arms, making Miranda feel like he had read her mind.
“Uhhh,” Eyms began. His other senses were kicking in. Miranda shuffled her feet, allowing Eyms to see her from noise effects. Eyms sighed.
“I have something else to tell you, Miranda.” Eyms said gravely as he stood up slowly.
“What is it?” Miranda asked inquisitively, giving him the look that Zach was weak against.
Zach was glad Eyms couldn’t see her, or he would have told her right there. It might have been a secret, one that other people can’t know.
“I’ll tell you, but this isn’t the best place to talk.” Eyms said. He looked towards the older man behind him. He had short gray hair and sparkling blue eyes.
“What is it, Eyms?” the man said softly.
“Can they come home with us? She is the Spirit Summoner, after all.” Eyms said.
“Yes. It’s already around seven o’ clock. You two should come with us for the night. Being the Spirit Summoner, other people may be looking for you. It could be dangerous to sleep outside again.” He said.
“Oh, thank you so much. That’d be great.” Miranda agreed, “Besides, the first night I slept out, I was attacked. But Zach found me. So, we’ll go. Right, Zach?”
“Sure, but we’ve got to leave in the morning. If the other Governments looking for you, then we’ve got to get to the other five shrines faster than we did before,” Zach remarked.
Miranda dropped her shoulders in disappointment. She hoped to stay longer and look around, but Zach wouldn’t allow that.
As they walked to Eyms’s house, Miranda told him about how she met Zach and caught her first Spirit. Zach and Eyms’s Uncle, Bruce Meyer, also talked. Uncle Meyer told Zach about how Eyms became blind.
He explained that he was looking for his father during the war. Eyms did find him, but when he did, an enemy released a poisonous gas that damaged his eyes. The last thing he saw was his father being carried off by the enemy. He managed to find his was back to his house, barely conscious. Zach couldn’t believe that the enemies were that cruel? They were ruthless people fighting for power.
Zach thought about what he would do when, no if, the Government’s soldiers found them. He tried to shake off that thought. Would they take Miranda away? Or would they kill him if they knew he was a spy? Either scenario would be dire to Miranda’s journey. It’d put an end to it right there. No matter what, Zach had to be prepared.
Finally, they reached Eyms’s house. Uncle Meyer opened the door and let them in. It was a pretty big house for just the two of them. It appeared that Bruce Meyer was very wealthy. The house itself was traditional, with sliding wooden doors everywhere. Apparently, the kitchen was the biggest room. It had a counter in the center, a square table in a corner, a hutch for dishes, and many cabinets that lined the walls.
The other rooms were just as spacey and nice. As they did the tour, Miranda mentioned how grateful they were that they could stay for the night. Uncle Meyer said that it was fine, because they haven’t had any visitors since Eyms’s cousins after the first war.
Uncle Meyer made them a dinner of chicken, bread, and a type of fruit that was blue, crunchy, and sweet. They called it Sevree. Eyms said that they harvested it; that’s how they got money. They had a large field of it behind their house. They also said that it was one if the only fruits that was getting sent to other continents. As they ate, they talked to each other some more. Soon, everyone was finished eating.
“That was really good,” Zach said. Miranda looked at him in surprise. Zach wasn’t much for complimenting people on things. That was just part of his personality. She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Oh, yes, that was delicious.” Miranda added quickly.
“Well, it’s the least I could do for the Spirit Catcher. You are going to help save the Three Continents, after all.” Uncle Meyer remarked.
Miranda glanced down at the table. She knew she could, but now that she knew the Governments were against her, she wasn’t so sure about the whole journey now. It all seemed like an illusion now. Besides, she had a feeling that they would be saving more than just the three continents.
“Miranda, are you okay? You just got really quiet all of the sudden.” Eyms said.
“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just… Now that I know about the Governments, I’m beginning to doubt my destiny.” Miranda explained.
Zach gave an angry look and stood up. He slammed his fists onto the table. “You can’t let them stop you, Miranda. Don’t lose sight of what is right.” He said, raising his voice.
Miranda looked at him with startled eyes. “Zach…?” she uttered somberly.
“Settle down, Zach. She knows what to do. She was chosen for a reason... Err, what are your names again?” Uncle Meyer said calmly.
Zach fell back into his chair. “I’m…sorry. I’m Zachary Voda.” He said.
“Why should you be sorry? You are right. I can’t let them stop me. I’m Miranda Laverne.” Miranda said.
Zach gave her a small smile. He knew he’d help her win this battle. That’s how it is supposed to be for them. He’s not sure why, but that’s what Saskae the Great Spirit had declared.
“Laverne?” Uncle Meyer said. He had a sad smile on his face. “You’re…” He didn’t finish.
“She’s what, Uncle?” Eyms asked with curiosity in his voice. He wondered what had made his Uncle sad.
“Oh, nothing…” he muttered. Maybe it was just a coincidence. He stared at Miranda. The resemblance was unmistakable.
Miranda suddenly remembered something. “Oh, Eyms, why did you try to steal that scroll before?” she asked quickly.
“Oh, um, like I said, that scroll marks the places where the Six Elemental Spirits were located. It’s a very rare map. I figured that if you had begun your journey, you would need some help.” Eyms explained.
Miranda nodded in understanding.
“Well, she doesn’t need any more help, thanks. I’m already helping her, anyway.” Zach countered quickly.
“Huh?” Eyms said.
“Miranda, we’re leaving in the morning. And when we do, we’re going to the next shrine.” Zach announced. “And thanks, we’ll take the map.”
Uncle Meyer stared, confused and bewildered.
After the conversation, they all got ready for bed. Zach got his own room, as did Miranda. She was glad she did, because she needed to think about what she was going to do next. She wanted to bring Eyms along; he had been so helpful, after all. But she didn’t think Zach would let her. Miranda suddenly got the feeling that Zach thought Eyms was simply a coincidence, or a blinded pathway to the near future.

Chapter Seven: The Nightmare

While Zach slept, he had a strange dream. Darkness enveloped him. What he saw made his heart skip a beat. It was his father and a handful of the League, his clan from the continent of Cyrus. They all wore simple clothes that were stronger than steal, but light as a feather and carried bows and arrows. They were notorious for leaving an arrow wherever they attacked.
In his dream, they were circling Eyms and Miranda. He was dangling from a rope that was tied to a tree branch. He yelled at them to let them go, but they ignored him. He felt totally helpless. What were they going to do to Miranda and Eyms? Were they going to harm them?
After struggling for a few more moments, he finally got loose and fell to the ground with a thud. As soon as he untied himself, he dove at the leader, knocking him over. The leader had fine, long blond hair and steely blue eyes. Miranda was suddenly swept off her feet by another Leagues man, and Eyms was knocked out. Miranda screamed for Zach, but he was tackled. When he got up, everyone was gone. He was alone in a dark forest. He shouted for the other Leagues men, calling them cowards.
He never got to save his friends, because someone was gently shaking him. “Zach, wake up.” Miranda’s voice whispered softly.
Zach shot straight up, not remembering where he was at first.
“What… what happened?” He asked. Miranda gave him a strange look.
“Nothing; its morning, though.” She replied, giving him a curious look.
“Oh…” Zach mumbled, getting up and out of bed. “We’d better get going.” He added.
He had no intentions of telling her his dream. He was afraid she’d get all worried. If she was worried about him, she’d lose focus on her real mission: catching the Six Elemental Spirits. So he shook off the fact that he had the dream, or nightmare, and pulled on his brown tunic and pants. He placed his scabbards on his belt and was all set.
Miranda shuffled her feet nervously. She wanted to bring Eyms along. For some reason, she felt she could really trust him.
“Um, Zach, I wanted to ask you something…” she began.
“Miranda, Eyms can come with us. But you’ll be the one to look after him.” Zach said before she even asked him.
“Oh really- that’s great!” Miranda exclaimed. He changed his mind… she thought. Suddenly a seemingly precious smile stretched across her face.
Zach also gave a small smile. If he didn’t let Eyms go, then she wouldn’t be this happy. And if she wasn’t happy, her confidence in herself would go down. He just wanted to be able to make the right decisions.
“But, wait, that’s not all I wanted to ask of you...” Miranda said quickly.
“Then, what is it?” Zach asked.
“Uh… This might be unorthodox, but have you had any business with Spirit Saskae by any odd chance?” she asked.
Zach shrugged his shoulders. “I told you before; I’m used to things that are unorthodox… But I don’t think so, to answer your question.” he looked at her. “Why?”
“He says he’s been watching you ever since I left his Shrine. When I went into Spirit Saskae’s realm, he told me to tell you that he was waiting.” Miranda explained.
“Oh,” Zach muttered. “All right, whatever.” I’ve got a bad feeling about that… He thought.
Miranda sighed. That was Zach for you. He never showed emotion-or weakness- at least, he tried not to.
When they went downstairs and into the kitchen, Miranda told Eyms that he could come. Eyms was as happy as Miranda was. He was uncertain, but happy all the same. Uncle Meyer walked over to Eyms, holding a leather bag.
“What’s this?” Eyms asked his Uncle when he had presented it to his nephew.
“I knew you’d travel with them. It was only a matter of time…” Uncle Meyer remarked. The truth was, Uncle Meyer had gone to Sorceress Katrina and had her read his family’s fortune. Besides, ever since Eyms had lived with him, several things had changed his life and himself. Katrina, however, had foretold that Eyms’s destiny would intertwine with the Spirit Summoner. He has prepared himself for this moment ever since.
Eyms hugged him. He was glad to be with new friends, but also sad to leave his uncle. His beloved uncle was understanding and kind, and Eyms knew that he didn’t have to take him in. He realized that when he left, his uncle would be alone.
“Uncle, you know I will return. There’s no way I’d totally abandon you.” Eyms assured. Uncle Meyer nodded; he knew he’d say that, but appreciated to hear the true words from his nephew.
“I figured you’d say that,” he said honestly. “I won’t disappoint you either; I’ll be waiting for you.”
Eyms smiled. Miranda thought it must have been hard to leave his uncle in pursuit of the Six Elemental Spirits, but she needed all the help she could get… even if Eyms was blind.
“Thank you for everything, sir.” Zach said with no emotion.
Uncle Meyer laughed. “Ah, Zach, loosen up. And you’re welcome. It’s good to know that there is someone who is looking out for Miranda… especially someone like you, who we can all trust- the Master Swordsman of Memoria.” He proposed.
“Yeah, right,” Zach said sarcastically, under his breath.
“Well, see you later, Mr. Meyer, and thank you.” Miranda remarked.
“It was my pleasure; it’s nice to have some company once in a while.” Uncle Meyer said. That was an understatement, but it wouldn’t have felt right if he didn’t say it at all.
“Good-bye, Uncle. I shall return.” Eyms said confidently. And with that, they walked out of Uncle Meyer’s house, taking a good memory along with them.

Chapter Eight: A Horrid Realization
Outside, in the early morning sunshine, the market was already setting up again. Zach wanted to visit that Sorceress he’d heard about. He wanted to find out if there was a war going on at his home continent, Cyrus. After a few minutes, they arrived at the decorative specimen. The tent was tall, long and narrow. The top had golden trims, and the sides had decorative patterns and strange symbols. There was a small clothes line with many wind chimes swaying in the breeze, making pretty jingles. When Miranda, Zach, and Eyms stepped into the tent, the lady was no where to be seen. They all looked around to see many shelves were crowded with scrolls and books and potions. There were even voodoo dolls hanging on the walls, with needles sticking out of some of them. Scary-looking masks with elaborate patterns hung on the silk-cloth walls.
Zach didn’t like the looks of the place. Miranda was fascinated, and Eyms was… oblivious, considering the fact that he was blind. Eyms glanced around nervously, trying to hear any noise that was familiar. Miranda instantly strolled over to a shelf of scrolls. She picked up one that had bizarre letters written in green ink. Miranda examined it for a few seconds, put it back, and picked up another one.
“Welcome, travelers!” a delightful voice greeted them.
Miranda jumped as they all looked to where the voice had come from; the end of the tent. Apparently there was a hidden back room behind a curtain. The lady had her hair put back in a bun, but the end was bushy and curly. She wore a lot of bangles and beads, and small glasses at the end of her nose. The lady also wore a dark green robe with gold trims on the collar and sleeve.
She smiled at the three companions. “Good morning, my name is Katrina the Sorceress! How may I help you young ones?” she asked cheerfully.
“Good morning,” Miranda greeted back.
Great, another morning person… Zach thought. Zach involuntarily took a step back. “I- uh, need to know something,” he explained.
Miranda glanced at him curiously. There’s that look again. Zack thought. Zach grunted. He didn’t know how much he wanted Eyms and Miranda to know about him. But he wanted to know what Cyrus was going through. He felt that the League was struggling.
“I need to know what is happening on the continent of Cyrus,” Zach began.
Katrina examined Zach. After a few moments she gave an exasperated gasp. “Aren’t you the infamous leader of the League?” she asked.
What? How could she know? Did she know someone from the League? Zack thought.
“Perhaps you could say that.” Zach answered with his eyes wide.
“Young man, I knew- loved someone from your League.” Katrina admitted.
“Who was it?” Miranda asked.
“His name was Jeremy Falcon,” Katrina said with a sigh.
“What do you mean by ‘was’? Jeremy Falcon is the Leader in Emorian. All of the current leaders are still working.” Zach acquired.
Katrina nodded. “But not him… He’s… gone; he… So much has changed! I don’t need to tell you anything by looking within the Abysmal Eye. My husband died; the League is being separated by belief from a Sky War that will begin… ” Katrina explained. It seemed as though she struggled telling them about her past relationship and a war that was connected with it.
Eyms dropped his jaws. Crap, another war? He thought. “How do you know for sure?” he asked.
Katrina waved a blue envelope. “This,” she sighed.
Zach gasped. “No,” he said. He glanced at Miranda and back at Katrina.
“Who sent you that?” he asked resolutely.
Katrina looked at the blue envelope. “A man named… Sol-err-Genova,” she read slowly.
“Let me see it, please.” Zach begged, with an outstretched hand. She gave it to him.
As he read it, the more he realized the whole crisis was a set up. He read it three times. It said that the League of Emorian was attacked, and Katrina’s husband fell at the hands of the Loyalists; the ones who attacked his people; the ones who worked for the three corrupting governments.
Zach dropped his head and shoulders in grief. What was Sol Genova up to? Why would he attack Zach’s people if he wanted him to cooperate with him? He felt betrayed by someone he didn’t even know. His fists shook in anger.
“Zach, what’s wrong?” Miranda asked innocently.
“It can’t be!” Zach shouted angrily. “He’s betrayed everyone; even the government he works for! He sent all of the people that know or have a connection with a member of the League! He sent everyone that damn blue envelope! It said something different, but now everyone knows! It’s a conspiracy- he’s trying to start another war!!”
Miranda gasped. “What? He can’t…”
“He’s going to; and he will! He’s been plotting this from the moment you were born!” Zach shouted furiously.
Katrina turned around. Eyms thought he heard her sobbing. Eyms sighed; he didn’t like it when a lady cried.
But then He suddenly remembered something. The lady before was different from Katrina; the one Uncle Meyer had given the money to. She knew that Miranda was the Spirit Summoner.
“Excuse me,” Eyms said. Everyone looked at him. He was a pretty quiet guy; he had not spoken since they left his Uncle.
“When did you get that letter?” Eyms asked skeptically.
“Two days ago,” Katrina replied as she turned back around to face them.
Eyms nodded. “Who originally received the letter?” he asked.
Katrina gave him a confused look. “Oh, my sister, Helen, got it from the mail system we use.” She explained quickly.
Eyms nodded. “And… doesn’t Helen work with you? Where is she now? Wasn’t she here the other day?” he questioned.
“I do not know where you are going with this, but she left to pay our travel insurance. She said she got enough money from a wealthy old man.” Katrina explained.
“Then we could have a problem.” Eyms concluded.
Zach’s eyes widened. “You… you’re not saying she knows that Miranda’s the Spirit Summoner and…” he stammered.
Eyms looked at Zach. “Exactly; she could have known who to contact after she read that letter. I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet she went to tell the government of Cyrus who the Spirit Summoner really is; the travel insurance was just a cover up. That’s why she has not yet returned.” Eyms explained.
Miranda gasped. “What if she also goes off to tell the… the… what were they called? The Loyalists...? Where I was? Or the League; what about them?” she questioned, looking at Zach.
“But what would they want with you? Sol Genova sent me to protect you. If he wants to protect you, then he should be on your side.” Zach remembered. Miranda nodded.
“So maybe Sol Genova is testing you instead, Zach?” Eyms suggested.
“No, there’s got to be more than that. He’s trying to start another war, remember?” Zach reminded him.
“But what do we do now? I know we have to go to the next shrine here, but what if that is all a set up as well?” Miranda asked.
“We have to keep moving… This is exactly what I was afraid of.” Zach recalled. I wonder if Spirit Saskae has anything to do with this… He thought to himself.
Katrina sighed. “I believe I have done enough damage here.” She whispered apologetically. She quietly folded her hands in an apathetic manner.
Miranda shook her head. “We can’t let Sol Genova get away with this. You said so yourself, Zach. It was your intention from the beginning, remember that? I can’t give up. We can still save Memoria!” she said confidently.
“But...” Zach sighed.
“No ‘buts’! We’re still alive! That means we can still make a difference.” Miranda announced.
Zach nodded and gave her a small smile. That was the Miranda he knew- warm and fuzzy- metaphorically, if course.
“All right, then we must hurry up and get to the next shrine.” He said.
“Katrina, thank you for you help.” Miranda said, holding out three gold coins.
Katrina stared at the money.
“No, keep it. I can’t take it from you.” She refused.
“Please? You’ve… been so helpful, after all.” Miranda insisted.
“Oh… all right. But I don’t understand how I’ve been so helpful…?” Katrina agreed.
“Katrina, you’ve helped us realize what was really going on. This situation may have gotten so much worse if it weren’t for you. We may have never truly realized the mistake we would have made.” Zach implored.
Katrina reluctantly accepted the money. “Thank you,” she said. “If you ever need anything again, I’d be glad to help you. If you’re ever near Granite Falls next week, our caravan market will be stopping there. So you’d be welcome to stock up on supplies if you need to.” Katrina suggested.
Zach gave a small smile. Miranda realized that he never really smiled, or grin for that matter. But who was she to judge him?
When the three companions left the tent, they stood in a circle to discuss their next destination.
“So where is the next shrine, anyway?” Eyms asked, “I can’t really read the map…”
Zach opened the scroll and examined the map it contained. “We should head east, then rest at the closest inn. After that, it should only be a few more miles to the second shrine here on Manndette.” He proposed.
“Shouldn’t we make camp before it gets dark? Or keep moving until we reach the next town?” Eyms asked.
“We will make camp halfway to the shrine. The sun should be setting by then.” Zach said. “Is that fine with you, Miranda?” he asked.
“Yeah, that sounds logical.” Miranda agreed.

Chapter Nine: Zach’s Confessions
Several hours later, the sun was beginning to set. Zach stopped. He looked over his shoulder at the other two. “We should rest here,” he said calmly.
Miranda sighed. “Yeah, I’m tired. It’s been a long day.”
Eyms nodded. “It certainly has…”
Once they got the fire started, the sun had sunk behind the horizon. They were all sitting down around a small fire. They ate the Sevree fruit that Eyms and his Uncle harvested. They had plenty of it; plus it tasted good and didn’t spoil easily.
Then Zach stood up. He was tired of keeping secrets, and he wanted them to know the truth about him. He trusted them, and he wanted Miranda and Eyms to trust him as well.
“Everyone… I have something to tell you.” He announced.
Miranda and Eyms glanced up at him.
“What is it?” Miranda asked curiously.
Zach took a small lungful of fresh air. “As you know, I am the ringleader of the League. What Katrina said was true.” He continued, “And I know about Sol Genova’s true motives. At least, I have an idea now.” Zach sighed, “Before I left the lodge- my home- I received a letter similar to Katrina’s. I had also gotten one before that said…”
“What?” Eyms asked softly.
Zach sighed, “That my parents had passed away during the Great Syn War and the Battle of Memoria. I didn’t want to believe it. But when I got the new letter, things changed. And when I told the other guys at the lodge I got that new letter, they thought that since Sol Genova himself sent me that letter, that I should accept his request to protect the Spirit Summoner.” Zach explained softly.
“I don’t get it…” Eyms said.
“What’s there to get?” Zach asked.
“What’s the Battle of Memoria? I thought there was only the Great Syn War, and there was going to be the Foresyn War that Katrina talked about. How come I don’t know about the Battle of Memoria?” Eyms questioned.
“Yes, good questions.” Miranda agreed.
Zach dropped his head, remembering the exact words of The Letter. What should I tell them? They both abandoned me, and told me they might not come back. They must have cared about somebody else…
“I lost both of my parents. My mom was a nurse, and my dad worked on machinery. When they left they told me they were also trying to find somebody. Later, I was taken in by some men; I helped them when they while they were being ambushed by soldiers who wanted them to fight in their battle. After that, we soon organized the League. What we did was help people who were being drafted, and find safe routes to their destinations, without running into other soldiers. The Parliament didn’t know about us; until we started to grow. We also took in casualties, and they served us to pay us back. Once we spread out and got larger, some of the men went to the other continents. There, they recruited the League. After that, the Parliament and I lost connections… until Sol Genova found me.” Zach explained angrily, realizing the mistakes of his past.
“Whoa,” Miranda whispered, “The League? Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“I didn’t want you to lose focus on the real mission, catching the Six Elemental Spirits.” Zach said.
Miranda shook her head. “It seems like my real mission… is you.” She said.
“Me?” Zach repeated. No one had cared about him that way since his parents died. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“You lost both of your parents. I know how you feel.” Miranda explained.
“I can also relate to your plight, Zach. I don’t know what happened to my mother. And I failed to save my father.” Eyms said quietly.
Zach thought for a moment. Then, he took out his two swords. “I have another thing to tell you two. After my parents disappeared, before I became the leader of the League, I was the apprentice of a Spirit Guide.” He said.
“What! That’s impossible!” Eyms shouted.
“How did you get the swords? And who was the Spirit Guide?” Miranda asked.
“Actually, he was a human before.” Zach said, “Saskae was my teacher of swordsmanship. He taught me everything I know. When I graduated, he gave me these swords as a momentum of his teachings.”
Eyms gasped. “Wait… Are they the Blades of Humana?” he asked.
“Yes. They were forged by the past Six Elemental Spirits, and they were blessed by the Goddess Festina, all during when Saskae became in charge of the Spirit World. These swords… are like the homunculi of the past Six Elemental Spirits.” He explained.
“Amazing; and to think you were the Great Spirit Saskae’s apprentice. No wonder how you’re so strong.” Miranda admired.
Zach closed his eyes for a moment. If they now understood about his past, then they could truly make a bond of friendship, and perhaps they wouldn’t betray each other. He remembered something his father told him long ago, ‘Trusting one another is the first step to a powerful bond of friendship’. He smiled to himself.
“Zach’s…” Eyms began.
“Smiling,” Miranda finished for him.
“At a time like this…?” Eyms said to himself.
“If we can trust each other, this journey may be much less of a hassle.” Zach explained.
Eyms nodded. “You’re confessions of your past probably would’ve made you more intolerable when you thought about them, and got angry. They’re remarkable; if you ask me, that is.” Eyms said.
Miranda nodded. An idea just popped into her head. “You know, this journey needs to be called something.” She said, “That way, down the long run we can remember this like it was yesterday.”
“Yeah,” Zach and Eyms agreed.
“So, I am going to call it… the Journey of Spiritual Regeneration.” Miranda said.
“The Journey of Spiritual Regeneration, huh… Sounds good; long, but good.” Eyms remarked.
“Well, for short we can just call it the Journey.” Miranda snapped quickly.
“Yeah… Oh, I have something else, by the way.” Zach said, remembering the weird wallet Vander gave him before he left. He took it out of the folds of his tunic. It was a black leather wallet the size of his palm.
“Huh?” Miranda asked.
Zach shrugged. “It can somehow be used to withdraw food. I was told it has an unlimited supply.” Zack explained. But it’s not like I’ll use it… He thought.
“Fascinating,” Eyms admired.
Zach put it away. “Now we don’t have to stop at towns to restock on supplies. Speaking of which, the next shrine should only be a few miles away.” He said.
“We should get some rest, then.” Eyms inquired. He casually lay down on a light sheet he’d spread out earlier.
Once Eyms was asleep, Miranda walked over to Zach. He looked up at her.
“Thank you for trusting us. You are right; this Journey will be easier if we trust each other.” Miranda whispered.
Zach nodded. “Yeah, I just want you to trust me,” he said softly.
She nodded. “Good night, Zach.” Miranda said. She couldn’t believe about what he had said about Spirit Saskae. It was incredible. The Master Swordsman of Memoria… She thought.
“I’ll see you in the morning.” Zach remarked, and rolled over and closed his eyes.

Chapter Ten: A New Side of Eyms

When the three companions awoke, the sun was barely up in the sky. Miranda was the second one to wake up. She saw Eyms sitting up.
“Good morning, everybody,” Miranda said cheerfully. She then remembered everything from last night.
“Morning,” Eyms yawned.
Zach nodded. He was sharpening his precious blades. Zach was back to his normal self…emotionless. Miranda frowned. “Miranda, you’ve got to catch the next Spirit. The next one’s Kapori, according to that scroll, anyway.” Zach said.
Miranda sighed. He’ll never be more open to them for a while. Maybe he just didn’t want anyone else to know his true self? Miranda didn’t see why Zach had to hide who he really was all the time. She really liked Zach, but not just because he saved her life. She felt it was more than that. No, she believed more than that. The more she thought about it, the more affectionate she came to be about him…
When the group finally packed up, they started to walk north, along the coast. Miranda looked out at the Ocean of Oracles. The sun was raising high into the sky now. Sun rays bathed the water, making it shimmer. Polly Dragons flew out to the horizon. Polly Dragons were small dragons, and they were usually friendly towards people. Miranda couldn’t help but to let her mind wonder; the scene was magnificent. She wished that Eyms could see it.
Zach also noticed the ocean. He merely let out a short sigh and looked up ahead. Further along the coast, there was a tiny speck on a cliff. A bright light was shining from it. The light was erecting from the lighthouse, and blasted into the sky. It seemed to be radiating some kind of energy, because Zach could feel it even though they so far away.
“Look, up ahead.” Zach said, pointing to the lighthouse in the cliff.
Miranda looked at it. “What is that bright light?”
“I can feel a lot of energy,” Eyms declared.
“Me too,” Miranda said.
“We should check it out; it could be Kapori’s shrine.” Zach proposed.
“That light’s really bright!” Miranda said again.
The three companions all rushed to lighthouse. Miranda couldn’t believe how easy finding the shrines have been. She wondered why the shrines were on the Mortal World anyway. Miranda also wondered why Spirit Saskae couldn’t capture them himself if he was so powerful? The taboo probably had something to do with Saskae being in his human form before.
After about twenty minutes, they reached the shrine. A narrow pathway snaked all the way up to the rocky mountain and led to the entrance, which was shaped like an arch. On either side of the tall shrine, windmills stood, casting tall shadows.
Many symbols engraved the outside of the entry way and the walls. Miranda noted that the surrounding stone that made the entry way looked different than the shrine itself. Behind it was the Ocean of Oracles. The cliff was so high, that puffy white clouds skimmed the rocks.
It suddenly got eerily cold. A breeze blew in their direction, pulling them towards the shrine. Miranda shivered. She saw Eyms shiver, too. But the cold didn’t affect Zach at all.
“Why is it so cold?” Miranda wondered aloud.
Zach glanced around and up at the sky.
“This shrine must be located near a cold front that’s carried by the sea, and it passes through here.” Zach explained.
“You sure know a lot about the environment.” Eyms said.
Zach shrugged. “Not really. It’s mostly common sense.” He chuckled.
Miranda gave a little giggle. “Look!” She suddenly cried.
They glanced up at the blue light that was erecting from the lighthouse. Now that they were closer, they could see that something was inside the light.
“No way,” Miranda said.
“Huh, what is it?” Eyms said, “I’m not really a visual leaner, you know.”
“It looks like Kapori’s inside the light itself!” Miranda exclaimed.
“And it will stay that way.” A dark voice seethed.
The three companions a turned to where the voice came from. A tall, thin woman stood there. She wore a long, black jacket and a skirt with a belt that had many jewels on it. Around her neck she wore a light scarf. Her short white hair fell into her face. And in her hand, she held a short, sharp lance. The wind ruffled her skirt.
Zach immediately pulled out his two swords and made his stance. “What do you want?” He demanded.
“You must stop this now. If you complete this journey, you will sever the balance of nature between the Three Worlds.” Her voice was low, and she kept her eyes on Zach.
“Why should we believe you?” Zach asked.
“Because I’ve seen it… This world will be consumed with evil. Just like the Underworld. When you gather all of the Six Elemental Spirit’s power in one place, Sol Genova will have you right where he wants you.” She explained.
“Assassins… So that’s why Sol Genova chose me.” Zach said quietly so that the others wouldn’t hear.
“What is your name?” Eyms asked.
“Heh; if you wish to know the name of your killer, so be it. I am Rune Menardi the Second.” She replied.
“The Second… Do you have a connection with Remiel Fontell?” Zach asked.
“That is for me to know and you to not know.” Rune said, “Enough idle chit chat. You now know my name, and that is when a fight begins! Prepare to die!”
She dove at Zach, aiming her lance. But Zach jumped up behind her and slammed his feet into her back, knocking her down to the ground. As she struggled to get back up to her feet, rain poured down from the darkening sky. In seconds, they all got soaked. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and lightning struck the ground.
“No!” Rune screamed. She finally got up and started to crawl away.
It was all happening so fast. Zach gave a battle cry and effortlessly slashed his swords down in front of her, blocking her way. She stopped and stared at her reflection in the blades with a blank and surprised expression on her face; she had lost her guard... How could she be so careless? Rune gasped. She attacked the wrong person. She rolled away and used her lance to swipe Miranda off of her feet. Miranda gave a gasp as she fell on her back.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Zach said to himself.
Before he could make another move, he felt the ground shake.
“What the…?” he muttered.
As Rune stood up, she too felt the ground rumble before her. She glanced around nervously. Was it the thunder, or an earthquake, perhaps?
“Huh?” she said.
Miranda looked back at Eyms, who had remained silent up until now. He had his hands raised, fingertips pointed towards Rune. A shadow formed around her on the ground.
“Look up,” Eyms said cockily, with crookedly raised eyebrow.
Regretfully, she looked up, and saw a large boulder hovering above her! She screamed as Eyms threw the boulder at her. Just in time, Rune jumped up and climbed up it, and stood on top of it. She gave a clever smirk, but also saw that it was speeding towards the edge of the cliff! She screamed in shock. Just as she thought her life was over, the boulder jerked to a stop. She looked at Eyms with sparkling, horrified eyes.
“’Prepare to die’?” Eyms laughed, “That’s a totally clichéd line, just so you know.”
She gasped as Eyms moved his hands in a downward motion. The boulder gained back its gravity, and fell into a dark abyss. Rune screamed as she fell… there was a splash, and that was all. Zach and Miranda exchanged glances and stared at him. This was a new side of Eyms… a more dangerous side of Eyms.
“Eyms… what the hell was that?” Zach asked, frozen in astonishment.
Eyms shrugged. “Hey, a blind guy’s gotta have some defense too, right?” he replied innocently.
“Such a shrewd guy you are, Eyms…” Zach chuckled.
Miranda blinked. This new side of Eyms; he was usually a quiet guy who kept to himself… he never looked for trouble unless trouble found him. In this case, trouble had found all of them, and he got them out of it by stepping up out of the ashes. She was as amazed as Zach, maybe even more.
Eyms grinned as he put his hands into his pockets and shrugged his shoulders. “Hm,” Eyms said.
Zach shook his head in disbelief. “Anyway, we’ve got to get Kapori. But if what we’ve been told is true, about Sol Genova…” he began.
“If we were meant to get the Six Elemental Spirits, then we should keep on going.” Eyms said with determination.
Miranda nodded and started to walk into the shrine. “C’mon,” she said, waving for them to follow.
As Eyms and Miranda walked into the shrine, Zach suddenly became unsure of this mission. He was most unsure of Sol Genova’s plan, which apparently had something to do with him protecting the Spirit Catcher, Miranda.

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